Cape Tribulation – where the (World Heritage listed) rainforest meets the (World Heritage listed) Great Barrier Reef! We recently visited this stunning area and have compiled a detailed itinerary of things to do in Cape Tribulation with kids.
There are a huge range of Cape Tribulation tourist attractions for families and the good news is that a lot of them are free. We just love a good list of free things to do in any area, so we have also detailed our favourite family friendly free things to do in Cape Tribulation too!
This guide will outline the very best and fun things to do in Cape Tribulation with kids. In our opinion, the Daintree area and Cape Tribulation are suitable for toddlers, kids and teenagers alike. From horse riding on the beach, to swimming in local (safe) creeks and canopy walks, we have outlined in detail our experience at these Cape Tribulation attractions.
A brief history of Cape Tribulation
The Traditional Owners of Cape Tribulation and surrounds are the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. Their country extends from near Cooktown to Port Douglas. For the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people many natural features of the landscape have spiritual significance including Wundu (Thornton Peak), Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi), Wurrmbu (The Bluff) and Kulki (Cape Tribulation).
Captain James Cook named Cape Tribulation in 1770 because ‘here began all our troubles’. His ship the Endeavour struck the Great Barrier Reef and they limped in to Cooktown to make repairs.
Where is Cape Tribulation?
Cape Tribulation is 1849 km north of Brisbane, 140 km north of Cairns, and 50 km north of Port Douglas. The Cairns to Cape Tribulation drive is considered one of the most beautiful coastal road trips you can do in Australia. Driving this road from Cairns, you will pass alongside the towns of Palm Cove and Port Douglas as well as smaller beach towns and coastal townships.
If you drive straight from Cairns to Cape Tribulation it will take you about 2 hours 45 minutes, but we recommend you take your time and stop along the way. There are plenty of places to get a snack, stop for a toilet break, admire the amazing scenery or buy some bananas!
How to get from Cairns to Cape Tribulation
There are lots of different ways to get from Cairns to Cape Tribulation if you don’t have your own car with you in far north Queensland.
Hire a car in Cairns
We hired a car in Cairns and drove ourselves. There are numerous hire car companies and their prices vary from season to season, so just search for what is he best price today. I find that Europcar and East Coast Car Rentals tend to be the cheapest.
Once at the Daintree River you need to pay the ferry to cross. The ferry is really just a moving bridge, not a true ferry – similar to the one over to the Noosa North Shore, if you are familiar with that one? You will need to buy a return ticket and keep your return portion safe. We paid $31 (for a return ticket in December 2020). Check out the current prices for the Daintree ferry here.
Bus to Cape Tribulation
We also looked at taking the bus. I will be honest, I didn’t look too hard. The bus only runs a few days a week and the journey times didn’t match our needs. Trust me when I recommend hiring a car! 😉
Day Tour from Cairns
If you are super short on time and you only want to spend a day in the Daintree and/or Cape Tribulation, you can book a tour in advance from Cairns.
What to do in Cape Tribulation
OK… so now that you know where Cape Tribulation is and how you are going to get there, let’s look at family activities in Cape Tribulation to suit all budgets!
Places to safely swim in Cape Tribulation
Let me be 100% honest with you again, and admit that I was nervous about swimming in far north Queensland. It is not something to do without a fair bit of research. If you swim in the creeks and rivers you need to consider crocodiles and if you swim at the beach you have to consider crocodiles AND stingers (between October – May). And these animals are serious! Do not underestimate your natural environment when in Cape Tribulation.
What we did, is ASK LOCALS. They will always be your best bet for accurate and trustworthy information about their local area.
Here are the places we found that are safe to swim in Cape Tribulation.
Mason’s Swimming Hole
Mason’s swimming hole is located at the Mason’s Cafe on the main road through Cape Tribulation. You cannot miss it. The cafe has a sign up that says *Our crocs are in our burgers not our swimming hole*. We didn’t try their burgers… but we wanted to!
The water is crystal clear and when we were there in December, not at all cold. There were fish and turtles swimming in the creek that seemed very used to humans joining them in the creek. They swam casually around us while we sat in the water and along side us when we swam.
There was another sign (put up by the cafe?) saying that rope swings would be removed, yet we saw one (and you can see it in the photo above) and people were using it to jump into the creek!
I enjoyed swimming at Mason’s Creek – and definitely felt safe here.
A bit further along the main road through Cape Tribulation you will find Emmagen Creek. Again, in the right place there are no crocodiles and no stingers.
To find Emmagen Creek your best bet is to ask a local (either at your accommodation or the local shop). It is not difficult to find, but you just need to know how to find the path to it from the road. What our receptionist told us was a bit confusing, so the best bet is to know that if you drive off sealed road and through the Emmagen Creek, you have gone too far.
Beyond that, you will be able to see other cars parked up at the entrance to the path… just ask a local!
Kid friendly adventures & tours in Cape Tribulation
Daintree Discovery Centre
After you cross the Daintree River on the ferry your first stop MUST BE the Daintree Discovery Centre.
Touted as the #1 tourist attraction in the Daintree, your whole family will enjoy this introduction to the local area. As well as the interpretive display centre, there is a huge 23 metre high canopy tower that you can climb so you can walk along the 125m long aerial walkway rainforest skywalk.
Your entry includes:
- Audio tour (8 languages)
- 68 page interpretive guide book
- 7 day free re-entry
- Children’s audio tour (suit 5 – 9 years)
The Daintree Discovery Centre is a must do on your way into Cape Tribulation to help you gain more knowledge about this significant area.
Cape Tribulation horse rides
I am always on the lookout for horse riding opportunities when we travel. Because I used to own horses when I was younger and still love them and seek them out when I can.
I booked Cape Trib Horse Rides for me and two kids (13 + 14 year olds). Cape Trib Horse Rides run 2 x 90 minute rides, every day except Mondays! They cater for everyone from beginners to experienced riders. And they are BUSY! I wanted to book the morning ride, but they were fully booked (a week in advance) so I had to book the 90 minute afternoon ride. So make sure you do book well in advance!
Our booking included pick up from our accommodation in Cape Trib and drop off back to our accommodation afterwards. 🙂
The owner is Steve and he is great! You can tell that he knows his horses really well because he matches you with a horse to suit your experience and size/weight.
Steve and his helper will give you a quick safety demonstration including how to ride their trail ride horses and then you are off! You will ride out of the property, through the rainforest and onto the beach for a *photo opportunity* and then back. The ride takes around 90 minutes, but allow 2 full hours including mounting up, instructions and cuddles with your stead at the end (or that might just have been me!) 😉
Walking tracks near Cape Tribulation
There are no shortage of walking tracks in Cape Tribulation. We have detailed the ones we did… but there are loads.
Dubuji Boardwalk – 1.2 km
Dubuji is a Kuku Yalanji word meaning *place of spirits*. The 1200 metre boardwalk explores 3 different habitats – rainforest, freshwater swamp (its a bit stinky in places) and mangroves. The boardwalk crosses a number of small creeks. Allow 45 minutes – 1 hour to enjoy the scenery.
Daintree Village Walk – 1 km
Walk 50m along Stewart Creek Road and take the first track to the left, on the edge of Pioneers Park. Go past the water treatment plant and water tanks.
Tranquillity Falls – 500m
This walk is on private property and there is an entry fee. After a picturesque drive through the Daintree, a holiday home and cattle property tucked into the valley and at the bottom of the famous 4WD CREB track.
Turn of Cape Tribulation Road at the Daintree Discovery Centre. The start of the walk is at the end of Tulip Oak Road, Cow Bay. This shady boardwalk in Daintree National Park, meanders through lush lowland rainforest.
You cannot swim at the Blue Hole despite the appealing looking water!
Blue Hole is a sacred aboriginal women’s place and the local women have asked that people do not swim here. There are many legends and stories about what could happen to you if you do swim here… my favourite being that men will become sterile… so swim at your own peril. We did not swim.
Places to eat with kids at Cape Tribulation
Daintree Ice-Cream and Tropical Fruit Farm
Ice-cream and kids on holidays go hand in hand. The Daintree Ice-Cream and Tropical Fruit Farm is another MUST DO when visiting Cape Tribulation! Located on the main road through Cape Tribulation, you cant miss it!
Offering a totally unique ice-cream experience, they specialise in exotic tropical flavours using fruits grown on site. Their famous 4 flavoured cups change daily. They also offer FREE self guided orchard walks so you can see and learn about the fruit you are eating. They will give you a map when you arrive so you can navigate your way through the farm and identify the fruit plants/trees.
Address: 1819 Cape Tribulation Rd, Diwan
Website: Daintree Ice-Cream
WHET Bar Cafe
Looking for an Eco-friendly, 100% sustainable place to eat!? We love Whet!
Whet is a family owned business, built entirely by the Wendens that took just under 2 years to complete. Whet is fully self-sustained – with generated diesel power, a tertiary level sewerage & grey water treatment plant, their own private water supply & rubbish removal. Where ever possible, Whet recycles all waste material and they use their grey water to irrigate their tropical fruit orchard at the rear of the property.
Whet’s formula is simple: an emphasis on local produce, seafood hauled from the surrounding waters, fresh, clean flavours and a menu that oozes creative flair. They offer lunch, dinner and drinks set in the Daintree Rainforest with the occasional live band and beer on tap!
Address: LOT 1 Cape Tribulation Rd, Cape Tribulation
Website: Check out Whet here.
Turtle Rock Cafe
This is where you go to get great coffee!!
The Turtle Rock Café offers fresh wholesome food, great coffee and outdoor dining, with a casual friendly atmosphere. Situated 400m from the beach, the Turtle Rock Cafe is located within the heart of the Daintree National Park.
Turtle Rock Café is also home to Ocean Safari, Cape Tribulation’s popular half day tour, offering exhilarating rides to snorkel the pristine untouched Great Barrier Reef off the Daintree Coast at Cape Tribulation.
Address: Cape Tribulation Rd, Cape Tribulation
Website: Turtle Rock Cafe & Bar
The Cassowary Restaurant
Cape Tribulation is full of Cassowarries, so it woudl only be natural to have a restaurant named after one!
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner and located in the heart of Cape Tribulation at Ferntree Rainforest Hotel (see below, this is where we stayed), their traditional Balinese designed restaurant is set in a secluded location for all to enjoy a relaxing rainforest dining experience.
Their menu is not extensive, but you are sure to find something you like and we found their prices to be very reasonable. We had breakfast here every morning!)
Address: 36 Camelot Cl, Cape Tribulation
Website: The Cassowary Restaurant
Where to stay at Cape Tribulation
If you are looking for family friendly accommodation in Cape Tribulation, we have put together this guide:
Cape Trib Beach House
Set on 7 acres nestled within the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Trib Beach House boasts a private white sand beach area and an outdoor swimming pool. Guests can enjoy a daily beach bonfire and onsite restaurant.
Website: Cape Trib Beach House
Lync Haven Rainforest Retreat
Lync Haven Rainforest Retreat is set amongst 20 acres of tropical rainforest within the Daintree National Park. Guests can get up close with kangaroos, swamp wallabies, snakes, frogs, lizards and a crocodile.
Website: Lync Haven Rainforest Retreat
Ferntree Rainforest Lodge
This is where we stayed and we loved it!
The resort is surrounded by 28 acres of lush rainforest, and boasts 2 swimming pools and an on-site restaurant and bar. We loved that all their accommodation is air-conditioned and includes ceiling fans, fridge, tea and coffee facilities.
Ferntree Lodge is less than 1 kilometre from both Cape Tribulation Beach and Myall Beach so it is well located on a side street off Cape Tribulation Road.
We loved our private porch with outdoor seating where I sat with a glass of wine amongst the sights and sounds of the rainforest.
Website: Ferntree Rainforest Lodge
Things to do in Cape Tribulation with kids
We hope that this article has given you a lot if ideas of the best things to do with kids in Cape Tribulation. I am sure we have just scratched the surface. If you go, feel free to let us know what you thought!